Definition of dread in English:

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Pronunciation: /drɛd/


[with object]
1Anticipate with great apprehension or fear: Jane was dreading the party [with infinitive]: I dread to think what Russell will say
More example sentences
  • If £7 represents ‘good value’ in the gloom of winter, I'd dread to think how they will value summer fare.
  • I would dread to think that a scene such as the one I witnessed at the age of twelve could happen in a playground now.
  • If this were a regular occurrence I would dread to think of what effect it would have on me.
fear, be afraid of, worry about, be anxious about, have forebodings about, feel apprehensive about;
be terrified by, cower at, tremble/shudder at, cringe from, shrink from, quail from, flinch from
informal have cold feet about, be in a blue funk about
2 archaic Regard with great awe or reverence: the man whom Henry dreaded as the future champion of English freedom


1 [mass noun] Great fear or apprehension: the thought of returning to London filled her with dread [in singular]: I used to have a dread of Friday afternoons
More example sentences
  • Terror is an aggravated form of fear: intense fear, fright or dread.
  • Panic, fear and dread take turns punching you in the solar plexus.
  • He just wants to paralyze a nation, cause fear and panic and dread to become part of our everyday lives.
fear, fearfulness, apprehension, trepidation, anxiety, worry, concern, foreboding, disquiet, disquietude, unease, uneasiness, angst;
fright, panic, alarm;
terror, horror, trembling, shuddering, flinching
informal the jitters, a blue funk, the heebie-jeebies
2A sudden take-off and flight of a flock of gulls or other birds: flocks of wood sandpiper, often excitable, noisy, and given to dreads
3 informal A person with dreadlocks: the band appeals to dreads and baldheads alike
More example sentences
  • Black, white, gay, straight, punks, dreads, skinheads, boys and girls, we had totally connected with militant anti-racist youth.
  • Don't even think for a minute that the Rastafarians are only in the business of making mats and brooms… you ever see a fat dread yet?
3.1 (dreads) Dreadlocks: Lyon combed his fingers through Curtis' dreads
More example sentences
  • He re-tied his dreads in a loose ponytail, which flopped over his left shoulder.
  • When I put mine in dreads, it was long and wavy and a little frizzy.
  • Part of the style in the photo seems to be using an oversize cap, but that may just be necessary because of the dreads.


1Greatly feared; dreadful: he was stricken with the dread disease and died
More example sentences
  • While he may have settled into what we may define a ‘normal’ life, he forever lives in the dread fear that one day, he may wake up to find the fruit bandit has struck again.
  • We still suggest woolen hoods for the Fourth of July picnics, but you can open a window now without fear of dread contagion.
  • With the air-conditioning switched off, it was becoming hot and stuffy in the confined cabin space, and only there did I really begin to feel the dread hand of fear.
awful, feared, frightening, alarming, terrifying, frightful, terrible, horrible, dreadful, dire;
dreaded, awesome
2 archaic Regarded with awe; greatly revered: that dread being we dare oppose


Old English ādrǣdan, ondrǣdan, of West Germanic origin; related to Old High German intrātan.

  • The original word for ‘to fear greatly, regard with awe’ was adread, shortened to dread in the Middle Ages. Among Rastafarians, members of the Jamaican cult that believes Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was the Messiah, dread is dread of the Lord, and more generally a deep-rooted sense of alienation from contemporary society. Rastafarians wear dreadlocks, a hairstyle in which the hair is washed but not combed, and twisted while wet into tight braids. Dreadlocks are sometimes simply dreads. These uses were originally Jamaican, but came to wider attention in 1974 in ‘Natty Dread’, a song performed by Bob Marley and the Wailers. See also natty. The most familiar dreadnought is a type of large, fast battleship equipped with large-calibre guns, the first of which, HMS Dreadnought, was launched in 1906. But before that, in the early 19th century, a dreadnought was a very warm coat worn in cold weather, or a fearless person.

Words that rhyme with dread

abed, ahead, bed, behead, Birkenhead, bled, bread, bred, coed, cred, crossbred, dead, Ed, embed, Enzed, fed, fled, Fred, gainsaid, head, infrared, ked, lead, led, Med, misled, misread, Ned, outspread, premed, pure-bred, read, red, redd, said, samoyed, shed, shred, sked, sled, sped, Spithead, spread, stead, ted, thread, tread, underbred, underfed, wed

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